Tuesday, September 3, 2019

September Update: Time to Backtrack

Unfortunately, this isn't going to be much of an update. I still haven't written anything.

I take that back. I wrote about a thousand words summarizing a dream I had that would make a good YA fantasy novel. But that's all I've written in six weeks.

I'm still really struggling. With exhaustion. With burnout. With what's going on with me. There have been times in the last six weeks that I felt sort of like writing, but never did. Or made plans to write, but didn't.

I haven't even managed to maintain an interest in any other artistic pursuits. I did photography for a hot minute, but nothing else since. Short of organizing things, decorating, and buying new clothes, I guess. If you can consider that creative.

It all comes down to...I don't know what to write right now. I've had to adjust my expectations as far as being a writer. Suddenly, I'm not sure what I'm doing about publication. My two finished novels, nobody wanted. So, do I try to finish the other two novels? They're so much like the things already rejected! Okay, do I focus on a book of a different genre? Do I have the energy to do that? If I do, what comes next? I don't have something else in that same tone, and I don't have any ideas for more stories in that tone, so my writing career is pretty much over before it begins in traditional publishing route.

So, what if I self-publish? Then I can write whatever I want, publish whatever I want.Whenever I want. Surely these books that were rejected by agents and publishers would appeal to a larger audience.

But what if they don't? Plus, I don't want to write anymore Druid Wars. At least, not right now. I could cut my losses on past projects and just work on finishing new projects rather than trying to clean up and finish old ones, despite the obvious time setback that puts me at. But I really wanted to have three or more years worth of releases ready to start publishing before I got to that point. I've been writing too slowly to manage that. And where will I find the time and energy to do all of that on my own, not to mention the money?

I don't have answers to those questions. It's not helping me decide what to work on.

So, maybe I should just not write for publication. What would I write, then?

I don't know.

Or maybe I do. Maybe I should listen to that quiet, whispered voice that says "nothing." Maybe if I stop writing for publication, I just won't write.

But then Rachel and I thought about co-writing this Hallmark-style romance. And I've been longing to return to the MystWatch world. And I've been excited, off and on, to start writing this new book for NaNo this year.

I'm adrift in a sea of indecision. I still think I kinda sorta want to write, but I really don't want to write right now. I'm thinking about trying the fall 24-hour short story contest this weekend. It might be a good place to start. Or I suppose it could be a horrible place to start. NaNo might be a better place to start. I honestly don't know.

At any rate. That's where I'm at. Still trying to move past my writers block, which I think is mostly caused by rejection. I think the feeling of having to go back to the drawing board YET AGAIN has taken more wind out of my sails than I ever would have expected. I wasn't able to be as resilient this time. That tells me that I might have one last round of queries left in me. And it won't be for a long time. So my biggest goal going forward, I think, is to write some books. For me. For my siblings, if they want to read them. But I don't want to write them for beta readers or agents or publishers or fans. I just want to write something for me. That's why I loved Monsters of Lawrence so much. Why it was so fun to write. Why I love it still. I want to try to find a way back to that feeling. That place. Because after writing the opening to this entry, I think that's the only thing left right now. The only way to salvage all this. I can't think about writing right now without thinking of a way to get it published. So as tired as the idea of going back to the beginning again makes me, it is necessary. That may be the only way to fix this, whatever this jagged, broken thing is inside me. I've taken a wrong turn somewhere, and now I have to backtrack until I find a trail that doesn't lead back into this darkness.

I think maybe the best place to start is to go back and read over some of my stories. The ones I love going back to. Maybe I can drum up some honest enthusiasm. Make me come up with some ideas for things I really, truly want to write about.

And be open to the possibility that maybe the stories I want to tell aren't the same, anymore. Whether that's from the constant rejection, getting older and finally "growing up", or this gradual change in faith, I'm not sure I can or even want to write about the same things I once did. Perhaps that's at the heart of my inability to write. I don't know what to write about, because what once resonated with me no longer does.

I truly hope that's it, and not that I just can't write anymore. Writing has been such a huge part of my life for the last five, ten, fifteen years. Twenty, if you count getting my degree in creative writing. A twenty-year investment in something. I'm not ready to give up on it after a few months of writers block. I went away from it for a year or two when I was doing more editing, but I came back. I have to believe I will this time, as well.

But I think it's still going to take some time. And it's probably going to be hard. Like getting back to exercise after time away from it.

For now, I'm going to enjoy being lazy for awhile longer. Listening to myself, I can tell there's still too much pain to try to push it without drying up any fragile buds that might be poking out.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

August Update: Murdercon

Murdercon was great. The people who put on the Writers' Police Academy are amazing. The instructors were knowledgeable and interesting. I learned a TON of stuff. About forensics, fire, firearms, blood, working undercover, funding for the various CSI branches, how the federal units work with local units, and how amazing the crime scene community is. I got to hear writers talk about writing, including Heather Graham talk inspiringly about "making it" and what the long journey of being a writer is like. I also learned what an amazing human my friend Rachel is.

I could go into greater detail, but I probably won't. Because what it all comes down to is this: I do not have any interest in writing mystery, procedurals, or anything having to do with crime or police. As fascinating as everything I learned was, it didn't trigger any new ideas or desire to write.

I do not regret going. That was one of the coolest trips I've ever taken. It was amazing to spend so much time with Rachel. As a learner, I sucked up every detail they gave me and relished in doing new things.

But it was not the magical cure for my writers block.

I didn't figure it would be. I just hope it unlocks something for Rachel in ways it didn't for me.

For me, it just made me tired to think about writing. About how those authors are always "on." They all want to talk about what they're writing. Share their business cards in hopes of drumming up sales. They were all super kind and interesting, but they were also still promoting.

I'm just so tired. I'm starting to worry this goes beyond burnout. I thought things were coming back. Maybe I crushed them by paying them too much attention. But I haven't written a word in over two weeks. No desire to. No ideas. No characters yammering at me. And when I sit and think about what I want to do next, work on next, pursue next, I want to curl up in a ball.

I don't think I've processed all of my anger and frustration as far as my rejection yet. I know I won't be able to move on until I do. And I think that's not something I can force. It's something that's just going to take time and working through slowly in little increments.

So. A week into August. Still not writing. And still not making any plans to force myself. I may write in a month or two. Or I may wait until NaNo. I'm not really sure. There's a lot going on deep in my subconscious that's hidden from me right now. Things are changing. I hope writing stays with me after the dust has settled. But maybe it won't. Maybe that part of my life is done for now. For awhile, anyway.

I will need another creative outlet soon, though. Probably photography. Maybe painting. I'm not sure what it will be, yet. Hopefully by my next update, I'll have a better idea what's going on with me.

Until then, may you find inspiration where I have not.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

July: Still Fallow

I got the last rejection I expected to get today, and with that, I'm closing the book on querying Druid Wars. For the foreseeable future, anyway. I'll be closing out three of them in a day or two, and then I'll have one left that was a long shot to begin with and I don't anticipate ever hearing back about, so yeah. Done.

Which is sad, since I was thinking about book two a little today, but oh well.

It's time to move on, I guess.

I've really been struggling the last few months. In the last two months, I've written 10 whole days. Most of that was brainstorming or outlining. Actual progress was only about 2k words out of 6.5k. I was really hoping July would be an output month, but I've been avoiding everything related to writing, including my friends. I did actually "quit" for a minute. A minute being about two weeks, actually.

My top agent, who has been closed since I started querying, finally opened. I sent in my revised query, excited and hopeful.

Got a "Dear Author" rejection less than 24-hours later.

I was gutted. I went into a funk and swore off writing. The constant unrelenting rejection was too much. The stress of trying to stay on track was causing me to melt down. I cannot write and query at the same time, but writing while querying was putting me behind on all my plans.

But querying is like setting a field of prairie grasses on fire. It kills everything. I was blackened and dried out. I had nothing left in me. I didn't even want to think about writing.

Now, new growth is starting to stir underneath that razed field. Little shoots are poking up, testing the air, and other things are coming to life again.

I'm not expecting a huge amount of output anytime soon. I'm giving myself the space to write or not, depending on how I feel. I'm ignoring my project timeline. I'll probably throw the whole thing out. Things are changing. I'm changing. My writing might be changing. I don't know how much looking back I'm going to be doing.

I don't know how much planning for the future I'm going to be doing, either.

I was astounded when one of my friends announced she had decided she was no longer going to write for publication. I thought we were all in this little club of folks wanting to make it, and suddenly, she wasn't anymore. Can she even do that? I wondered.

And now, I think I agree with her. The publishing landscape is treacherous. It's like navigating a stormy sea full of pirates and sharks. I don't think I want to be a part of it, right now. I've thought more and more about small presses or self-publication, but even if I do either of those, it won't be for awhile.

I'd like to try to step back and just write, for a bit, without worrying about agents or fans or even beta readers. Write for myself, and for my characters, and maybe, just maybe, my brother and sister.

And honestly, I think it's going to be MystWatch. I've been meditating on what to do next, and I keep coming back to that. I tried to tell my inner self that ship has sailed, but it doesn't seem to matter. It's where my heart is. Always has been. I don't know who gets their story next, but I think that might be what next year brings.

This year, I'm mostly focusing on recuperating after querying and getting myself ready to write once November hits. I've been taking notes about that project on and off for months. It's really starting to come together. Or at least, the world and the feel is starting to flesh out. I'm actually looking forward to it, which is something I haven't felt about a story idea in...quite a long time.

I may poke at Sally Prescott, Chain Letter, or even Witches between now and then, but again, only depending on how I feel. If all I want to do is read nonfiction books about birds and trees, take pictures, and play videogames, then I'm allowing myself to do it.

And if I do query again someday, I'll have to make sure I don't plan on writing anything. The two cannot happen simultaneously.

Anyway. This is my update for what I did (or rather, didn't) in July. I'm leaving for Murdercon with Rachel next week and won't be back until late on the 4th. I figured I'd do this post now and a post about Murdercon sometime later in the month. I've been bad about post-con updates the last few years, but I haven't had a lot to say after Conquest in awhile. I should have at least a thing or two to say after this experience!

So farewell until next month. I promise I'll keep coming back here, even if I'm not writing. It's good for me to check in, even if the only progress update I have is that I haven't made any progress.